Little Sparrows and Piggy Cheeks
However, when I designed the kitchen, the one thing though that I can't blame on our Scandinavian cousins was the overzealous impulse to install as much cupboard space as possible. That was definitely my fault and we have tons. And when the kitchen was finished, it felt rather good. Well it does doesn't it? Throw what you like at me world but hey I will always have a corner in my house where I store away my beloved KitchenAid Blender, all neat and tidy like. The problem is that over time, if you're like me you tend to accumulate all kinds of useless cooking paraphernalia, largely from places like IKEA* and before you know it you have cupboards and cupboards full of crap. So if I get the chance again, I will design my kitchen with less cupboard space and drag the sink closer to the oven and the fridge.
But what is done is done (for now) so the other day I set about the task of clearing out one cupboard that was mysteriously full of Tupperware boxes and plastic takeaway trays and chanced upon a Pyrex pizza tray with holes, still in it's packaging. I scratched my head for a minute or two, trying to figure out why I had bought this rather gimmicky item but suddenly remembered I got it out of a pound shop thinking that it may serve me well should I ever want to make some spätzle. I first encountered 'German pasta' at the sadly defunct Konstam where it was served up with roast Uxbridge chicken. The spätzle had been decadently pan-fried in beurre noisette and mixed with herbs and I thought it was delicious. After that evening I was determined to make some of these fluffy, doughy.... er squiggly dumplings at home. That was probably about 4 years ago now and I had forgotten all about spätzle until I fished the pizza tray out just the other day which gives you an appreciation of my sense of purpose. But still I made some the other night and was fairly happy with the result, the spätzle wasn't quite as big and fluffy as I remember but they were still very good. There are various recipes out there and I did do some research first, getting a lot of advice from Sara of Sasasunakku on Twitter. Essentially the basics are the same, flour, eggs, salt and a smidgen of water. So here is a very simple step by step guide should you ever feel inclined to make some spätzle at home. Ha, I do like the professional tone of that last sentence, like I'm the frigging spätzle King, this was the first time I ever tried it!
First take a pizza tray with holes. Or a colander. Or even a proper spätzle plate or press. You will also need something to push the dough through. A dough scraper is deemed to the best utensil but apparently you can use the back of a ladle. I used a B&Q grout spreader that I found in the shed and I promise you Mrs FU, it had never ever been used and I gave it a scrupulous clean under the tap.
So make up your spätzle dough by mixing 250gms of plain flour (or tippo '00') with 5 large free range eggs, a teaspoon of salt and a dash of water. The dough has to be quite loose, almost like a batter for you to be able to push it through your chosen receptacle.
Heat a large of pot of water on the hob until it's boiling fast and strong. Place your chosen receptacle over the pot and pour in the middle a ladle of dough/batter.
Spread the batter across your chosen receptacle with your chosen utensil, pushing every last bit through as quickly as you can. The spätzle is ready when it pops up to the surface (mine took less than a minute) so keep an eye on it. With a slotted spoon take the spätzle out and place in a bowl of iced water to stop it cooking further.
Once drained and dried with kitchen towel, the spätzle should look like this (again should it? I am not the spätzle King). All ready to be warmed through with a nice cheese sauce poured over as an accompaniment to some nice fat bratwurst.
Or you could serve the spätzle up, pan fried in beurre noisette and mixed with parsley and chives (which I did in homage to Oliver Rowe) to accompany some pig cheeks braised in red wine with spicy red cabbage. Next week I am going to clean out some more cupboards and see what will inspire me to cook next. This could be the start of an interesting journey, I may not be the Spätzle King but I am certainly the King of Kitchen Crap.
As a footnote, the piggy cheeks were purchased from Barbecoa Butchery which is attached to Mr Jamie Oliver's new venture at One New Change, St Pauls. The guys there are a great laugh, especially the toothless wonder, pay them a visit.
(*and actually yes I am blaming you again............. fucking Swedes)